San Diego County Board of Supervisors launches plan to combat Alzheimer's disease

SAN DIEGO - The county Board of Supervisors Tuesday launched a plan to combat Alzheimer's disease, which is the third leading cause of death in San Diego County.

"A diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is a death sentence -- at least right now," said Supervisor Dianne Jacob. "It's time to team up and take on this killer."

What Jacob and Supervisor Dave Roberts dubbed "The Alzheimer's Project" is designed to bring together researchers, caregivers and experts to improve patient care and treatment.

Caregivers of Alzheimer's patients and medical experts will be asked to help develop a plan to improve services for Alzheimer's patients and to develop an awareness campaign focusing on early diagnosis and warning signs.

Staff will report back on the findings this fall.

"As the region's largest public health agency, the county can, should and will play a pivotal role in raising awareness and helping families dealing with the disease," Jacob said. "The Alzheimer's Project will focus on two issues -- care and cure."

The supervisors also included backing for the Alzheimer's Accountability Act and any other legislation that would increase funding for research or provides additional resources for caregivers, those afflicted with the disease and their families. County officials will also apply for any available similar funding opportunities.

More than 60,000 area residents suffer from Alzheimer's, and 80 percent are cared for at home, according to the supervisors. The figure is expected to double by 2030.

Jacob and Roberts said there are "a lot of encouraging signs" on the research front, including a nationwide initiative launched by neuroscientists in January to study a protein that might play a role in Alzheimer's.

"I would hope that there is a cure out there, and that maybe in San Diego County we can be on the cutting edge of bringing those services that are needed to many people that are going to contract this disease," Supervisor Ron Roberts said.

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